Home Back Issues May 2009 The robot doctor will see you now

The robot doctor will see you now

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009

 

ATSrobotdoctor

Photo of the R-7 courtesy of InTouch Technologies

LA GRANDE Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande is a rural, 25-bed facility with no cardiologist on staff. Two years ago, a heart patient there would have had to drive three hours to Boise. But now patients can get instant, face-to-face appointments with a cardiologist without anyone driving anywhere.

Well, that’s not entirely true. The cardiologist has to drive EDGAR (“Educated Doctor-Guided Assisting Robot”) from its parking spot in the hallway to the patient’s room.

EDGAR is the keystone of Grande Ronde’s telemedicine program, which recently won the Outstanding Rural Health Organization of 2009 award from the National Rural Health Association. The robot allows specialists to consult remotely, saving patients the time and money of traveling to a larger hospital. Because of EDGAR, tiny Grande Ronde, which sees only 15 or 16 patients a day, has 16 staff members with special ICU training who beam in from St. Louis, Mo. Recently, the hospital hosted a distance-learning class on stroke care, avoiding travel costs for 30 nurses. The hospital plans to add remote dermatologists, a 24-hour pharmacy, and three-way consultation capability.

Meaghan McCamman, an NRHA manager, says rural hospitals face challenges such as recruiting and retaining qualified health-care workers. Their low patient volume and higher poverty populations also mean they have a much lower margin than urban hospitals.

Telemedicine addresses those issues, says Doug Romer, executive director of patient care services at Grande Ronde. Telemedicine attracts young health-care workers because it exposes them to expertise not usually found in rural hospitals, and it allows the hospital to recoup some costs by keeping patients on the ward.

The $45,000 wireless network necessary to make EDGAR work was paid for by St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. St. Alphonsus is the hub for remotely connected doctors and nurses at rural hospitals in Oregon and Idaho.

That money was a federal grant, so next year Grande Ronde will have to take on the approximately $4,500 it takes to run the program each month. But there’s no debate about whether to keep EDGAR, Romer says.

“Our board of trustees has recognized that technology is the future,” he says. “If we can provide the care without having to travel, that’s what we want to do.”

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

October surprise

News
Sunday, October 12, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER

Cylvia Hayes, tabloid vs. watchdog journalism and the looming threat of a Cascadia earthquake.


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

Powerlist: Law Firms

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with leading partners at law firms in Portland and eastern Oregon, followed by October's powerlist.


Read more...

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

True Blood

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Antibiotics really aren’t magic bullets.


Read more...

Downtime

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS